Journaling for Leaders Young and Old
Why I, my clients, my friend and her 9-year-old son journal every single day and why you should take up journaling too.
Here are some of the 26 journals my friend has written in since she was 12 years old.
I journal every single day, as do most of my clients and many of the people close to me. As a business owner, journaling gives me an outlet to release my frustrations, brainstorm solutions and set myself up for success.
A friend of mine has been journaling since she was 12 years old. Recently, her son has been struggling with school, so she bought him a journal. Here’s what happened:
My 9-year-old son is bright, well-liked and has a large group of friends. He also has a flair for the dramatic. Any time he gets a cut or a scrape, it becomes a mortal flesh wound in need of an Ace bandage and ice.
So when my son started saying things like, “I’m the worst in my class” or “It’s been a bad day, I want to kill myself,” I was both skeptical and worried. Then I noticed that in his to-do list in his agenda, he wrote, “Kill myself.” I went into full-out panic-mode.
His teacher told me she’d noticed a drop in his self-esteem. Though he was adept at math and science, his writing skills were weak. The concept of working hard at something was foreign to him, since heretofore, everything had come easily to him. He didn’t know how to handle this and was super frustrated.
I was beginning to explore the options of hiring a tutor or a social worker when I discovered a seminar about building up self-esteem in kids. Among the speaker’s great ideas was to introduce kids to journaling, and she just so happened to be selling journals that night.
My son is of the keyboard generation and can barely write with a pen, so I wasn’t sure if this would fly. But having experienced the transformational powers of journaling in my own life, I took the chance, bought the journal and left it on his bed.
When he discovered it, he was puzzled. “What am I going to do with this?” he asked me.
I took him downstairs to a large, sealed bin and proceeded to pull 26 journals out of it. He had a ton of questions.
“Why did you write all of these? Can you write about anything? Do you have to show it to anyone?”
I told him that I started writing in journals when I was 12 because I wanted to be a writer and I wanted to remember what it was like to be a certain age. That the beauty of journaling is that there is no right or wrong way to do it. That you can write whatever you want, share it with the world or keep it to yourself.
“When you start writing,” I told him, “your fingers take over. The things you plan on writing about sometimes turn into completely different ideas.” His eyes were wide open.
“If you have a good day,” I continued, “you can write about it and remember it. And if you have a bad day, writing about it sends it from your brain, through your body and out the tips of your fingers. You leave it behind and feel better after.” He decided to write 10 lines before bed each night.
I noticed a dramatic change in him in just two weeks.
He told me that he would start each journal entry with, “Today was a great day,” and then he’d list all of the little reasons why that was true. This simple exercise shifted his thinking from negative to positive. He started to see all that was good and fun in his world again.
Journaling is fundamental to the Frame of Mind Coaching™ process. When our clients journal, they learn about themselves, where they are tripping themselves up, how to rise above their obstacles and how to reach their goals. We use a unique and secure online journaling platform, allowing our certified coaches to see and respond to their clients’ journals in real time.
To begin your own journaling dialogue with a coach or to learn more about our coaching process, start with this short survey and journaling exercise.